This report is due to be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scheduled to take place on Thursday, 3rd December 2020. Any recommendations arising from this debate will be reported for the Executive Committee’s consideration in a supplementary pack for this meeting.
The Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager presented the Church Green Draft Conservation Area and Management Plan for Members’ consideration.
The Committee was informed that the Council had a duty to designate conservation areas and to have plans for the management of those areas. The plan presented for Members’ consideration built on previous strategies for the conservation area. There were a number of buildings in the conservation area which needed to be supported and enhanced.
During the development of the plan, a number of issues had been identified with the conservation area. The main challenges were the poor state of the public realm, issues with the shop fronts in the area, vacant units and parking issues close to St Stephen’s Church and in the town centre. On Alcester Street there were a few buildings which had previously been left out of the conservation area which would be incorporated under the new proposals.
To address issues with vacant units, plans would need to be developed which would consider different approaches to managing town centres; traditional retail units were increasingly struggling and might need to be replaced with other options. The Redditch Town Deal would potentially provide some new opportunities. The Council was working with Worcestershire County Council and the North Worcestershire Economic Development Unit to address some of the problems that had been identified with the public realm. In addition, Officers were already exploring the potential to introduce Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) for locations within the conservation area where parking was a problem.
The work on the conservation area and management plan placed the Council in a position to apply for grant funding to help manage the conservation area. Funding was available from bodies such as Historic England and this type of funding had been used to positive effect in other parts of the country to enhance features in conservation areas.
Subject to the approval of the Church Green Draft Conservation Area and Management Plan, Officers were preparing to undertake consultation with relevant stakeholders about the details contained within the plan. This consultation exercise would be held early in 2021 and the outcome would be reported for Members’ consideration at a later date.
Following the presentation of the report Members discussed a number of points in detail:
· The contribution that the proposals detailed in the management plan could make to the wider plans for the regeneration of Redditch town centre.
· The risks to the heritage of the town centre should action fail to be taken in relation to the conservation area.
· The potential for modern infrastructure, such as electric charging points for vehicles, to be introduced in the conservation area. Officers reassured Members that this would be possible to do.
· The need for the Council to have a costed plan for any work proposed in relation to the conservation area.
· The impact of traffic in the conservation area and the potential for enforcement action to be taken in relation to the pedestrianised area on Alcester Street.
During consideration of this item Members noted that the Church Green Draft Conservation Area and Management Plan had been pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 3rd December 2020. The Committee had endorsed the recommendations contained within the report and had raised a number of important issues during their debate on the subject. In particular, a number of suggestions had been made about Unicorn Hill in Redditch town centre.
1) the draft Church Green Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan be endorsed; and
2) a six week public consultation period be approved. The result of this consultation will be reported back to the Executive Committee in due course.